Silhouettes

This is another I learned thanks to my sister Debbie and Sha Na Na. When she was 12 and I was 14, or maybe a year before, we got together with a couple of grad students in Woods Hole, Bill and Paul, who were enough older that they knew the songs from the first time around, and held regular doo-wop sessions we called “rock concerts” on Gansette Beach at night, banging rocks as percussion and singing our various parts, just the four of us — then stripping off golden goodiesour clothes and swimming, our bodies outlined by glowing bio-luminescent creatures (the motion of your swimming sets them off, and it’s like you were surrounded by fireflies).

This was one of our favorites — the chorus is great for singing, and the trick ending never got old. One of the cleverest teenage romance songs of a period notable for clever teen songs, “Silhouettes” was written by Bob Crewe with Frank Slay, and recorded for their own XYZ label (though when it took off they quickly licensed it to Cameo), and great as that record is, it is probably most notable for launching Crewe’s career as a songwriter and producer.

Crewe and Slay had written a couple of previous songs for the Rays, including the bizarre “Moo Goo Gai Pan,” but “Silhouettes” was their breakthrough, and they Bob Crewewent on to have hits with Billie and Lilly and Freddie Cannon…

…but Crewe really hit his stride in the 1960s, when he teamed up with Bob Gaudio and wrote a bunch of Top Ten hits for the Four Seasons, then “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” for Frankie Valli, produced Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, and all in all, racked up a formidable resume that eventually included LaBelle’s “Lady Marmalade.”

There’s lots more about Crewe online, plus a good capsule bio of the Rays and their lead singer, Harold Miller, but enough history… I had my fun singing this, now and many times in the past (and take a perverse pleasure in the fact that I forgot to close my closet before filming the video, underlining my essential kinship with the song’s hapless protagonist), but check out the Rays’ original: